Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer



The sun-laden south coast of Torquay is now home for Dean Edwards. Yet it’s his birth-home of Wolverhampton where he still wishes the weather had been kinder to him.

“I was born a Phil Parkes goal kick away from the stadium and my early memories are living in a block of flats on the third floor,” he explains. “We could see Molineux from our balcony and hear the Wolves roar on a match day, but if I’d lived on the 10th floor I could have seen the pitch!”

Dean’s first Molineux memories were as a six-year-old where his father took him to his first game. “We played Manchester United and I was a plastic ‘Manc’ back then,” he said cheerfully. “My dad took me to the rosette man and I wanted a United one. My dad told me if I wanted a red one I’d have to pay for it myself, so I had a Wolves one!” Dean was on his dad’s shoulders in the South Bank and was completely hooked, and little did he know that one day he would get to hold his arms aloft in front of that very stand when celebrating a goal.

“I’d be telling lies if I said I didn’t dream growing up of wearing the Wolves shirt. Hugh Curran was my first hero, I remember him scoring an overhead kick and being mobbed by his teammates and it was from then I wanted to be a centre forward.”

There is even a photo doing the obligatory rounds on social media of a fresh faced Dean Edwards chasing his hero Derek Dougan across the Molineux pitch. Dean would never know back then that he would go on to tread a similar path.

Dean hailed King John (Richards) as his ultimate Wolves hero. Whilst at Wolves, he was invited to play in a charity five-a-side tournament and was in the same side as Richards, John McAlle and Parkes. “I had to pinch myself. To be fair, it was the best team I’d ever played in at Wolves!”


Long before the dream of pulling on a gold shirt on became a reality, Dean was a plucky 15- year-old earning his stripes in the rough and tumble of the Wolverhampton Sunday League. “I played for Pendeford Old Boys on a Sunday. It was like playing in a war-zone. I was learning my trade trying to dodge high tackles and getting kicked in the back of the neck. I was built like a gypsy’s dog but I must have been doing something right.”

It was a scout from Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest that showed early interest but nothing materialised. Then it was Wolves who got Dean training with the schoolboys a couple of times a week under the legendary Joe Gardiner, but his hometown club wouldn’t commit and it wasn’t quite the gold-laden path he had dreamt of treading.

“I was playing with a lad on a Sunday who had got a trial at Shrewsbury by writing to them. So I did the same. I got a trial game against the Wales Under 18 squad and scored. They wanted to see me again and invited me for another trial game. I wasn’t interested in who I was playing against and when I got there realised it was Wolves! Joe Gardiner asked what I was playing at. I told Joe that I’d had no commitment from Wolves so I wanted to try my luck at Shrewsbury. I scored against Wolves and two days later I received a telegram from them offering me a two-year apprenticeship, but I’d signed for Shrewsbury the day before.”

Dean was realistic as he summed up the decision, that eventually prevailed due to timing. “I’m glad I signed for Shrewsbury, there was no way I was going to replace John Richards at Wolves. That would be like replacing a Ferrari with a Ford Focus!”

Dean signed a two-year apprenticeship at Gay Meadow and after impressing, his first game as a professional was an international affair. “I was still 16 when we played against the Zambian national team. Bobby Charlton guested for us and was slaughtering me. After the game he was all smiles but it just demonstrated how competitive he was and why the World Cup winner had such a great career.”

Dean though almost received international recognition himself as he flirted with a call up to the England Under-18s. And it was at Shrewsbury that his path first crossed with his eventual Wolves nemesis Graham Turner. “In those days the youth team would train with the first team so I quickly got recognised. I was cleaning the terraces and boots and did everything I could to make it. Shrewsbury had just been promoted from the old Third Division to the Second and the clubs in our league included Chelsea, Watford and Leicester.

“One of my first games was against the mighty West Ham at Upton Park. They had just won the FA Cup and there were 25,000 there. I had Alvin Martin and Billy Bonds marking me and Trevor Brooking was different class, running the midfield. Spraying passes, putting backspin on the ball, he never left the centre circle. I’d remember watching him a few weeks before play against Yugoslavia for England and rattle one in off the stanchion. It was all surreal but I played well, hit the bar and we lost 3-0. At the end Trevor tapped me on the head and told me I’d had a good game.”


It wasn’t long before Dean got on the goalscoring trail himself against Bristol City and Burnley, and then came another huge test. Chelsea away at Stamford Bridge.

“I was buzzing for this one. I was naive to think I’d be still in the team and when I looked at the team sheet after training I wasn’t included. The lads could see I was down and started winding me up and telling me I should have a word with the gaffer, fight my corner and tell him I wasn’t happy. Foolishly, I did just that!”

This was to be the first and last time Dean would lock horns with Graham. “I knocked on his door and told Graham I wasn’t happy. He was quite polite, justified the decision by telling me he was going to Chelsea to defend in the aim of nicking a point. He told me to come back on Monday.”

After the weekend Dean remained fired up to sort out his future. Graham was reeling after a 3-1 defeat and the last person he wanted to see was Dean. “I knocked the door and he looked surprised to see me at first. I told him I was unhappy and he told me we could sort it – he got my contract out the draw and ripped it up in-front of me. I wished I hadn’t opened my mouth and could see no way back after he told me in no uncertain words to get out of his office!”

Graham and Dean hardly spoke for six months. Dean was bombed out of training and ended up going out on loan to Finland and mixing it with the likes of Vinnie Jones, Dennis Wise and future Wolves teammate Campbell Chapman, who were already out in Northern Europe. “It was decent money at the time, £100 a week but the standard wasn’t great and I was scoring goals for fun. The league ran from March to September. I came back to Wolverhampton at the end of the season and didn’t have a club. I was still swanning round like I was a professional footballer, then it all hit home.”

Dean’s dream was quickly slipping out of his grasp. Farmed out to Finland from the Meadow, he’d come back to nothing and his family were quick to pull him up. “My Dad and Uncle told me I was nothing anymore and I had to knuckle down or forget chasing the dream. I ended up back in the Wolverhampton Sunday League playing for Wolves Sporting and could see it all slipping away. I needed to start again and find my level, as I’d gone from playing at Upton Park to Dog-shit Park!”

Dean eventually got picked up by local non-league side Telford and was in amongst the goals but had to get a job. “I couldn’t run my Rover whilst playing at Telford without working and ended up getting a job at Yale in Willenhall. My first day was a disaster. I was pulling a pallet with thousands of locks on it to take it to the next level of the building. I hit the lip of the floor with the trolley and the locks went everywhere and I got sacked. I then went to Thompson’s on the Ettingshall Road. That was great money, but every morning when I heard the roller shutters of the factory being opened up, I started to question where my life was going.”


Dean was honest in his summary of the game. “I was beginning to see that it was a beautiful game but a brutal industry. I still kept the dream and I was then told again that Wolves were interested. Sammy Chapman had got in touch as I’d played in Finland with his son Campbell. I knew Telford would have made it difficult for me to leave as I was scoring goals but I couldn’t afford to miss out on Wolves again. I needed to get my release forms signed so I made it clear I didn’t want to be there. I started playing up in training, not trying or showing any commitment and they let me go. It wasn’t professional but then again, nor was I at that time and that was the dream I was chasing.”

It was 1985. Bill McGarry was back at the club and under good advice signed the local boy, Dean Edwards. “I’d grown up watching Wolves in the 1970’s and Bill McGarry was an icon. On the day of my first training session at Castlecroft I was up at 5am doing my stretches. That day I must have ran a marathon in training. I was that eager to sign I didn’t even know how much I was getting paid, all I knew was that it was £80 a point and we weren’t picking up many points at the time!”

Dean got off to a flyer, scoring a couple of goals in his first two reserve games and then featured in John Richards’ testimonial. “To be honest, I was happy. I’d trained at Castlecroft with a Wolves badge on my chest, then I played in King John’s testimonial. It could have all ended there and then and I’d have been happy.” But it didn’t.

Dean made the first team and on his first Wolves start, scored against Brentford in a 4-1 defeat at the South Bank end. “I scored for Wolves on the Saturday, then on the next morning my manager was knocking the door for me to play on a Sunday. The Express and Star on the Monday night had two pictures next to each other. One of me celebrating, arms aloft in front of the South Bank and the other of me trudging off the Marston’s pitch on the Sunday.

“Sammy went mad but I told him I wasn’t being paid and on the Sunday morning I was and that was what was running my gas-guzzling Rover. So the Sunday side were paying for my petrol for me to get to Wolves!”

That soon changed. Dean scored 10 goals in just 31 appearances for Wolves and he was now on the payroll. “It was a great time. We had great players in Mutchy, Micky Holmes, Jon Purdie and Andy King. It was the defence that was the problem, we would score goals but concede more. Tim Flowers was in goal, he was only 17 and it must have shot his confidence at the time, not enough though to stop him winning the Premiership with Blackburn in years to come.”


Dean recalls in earnest his time at the club. “I scored the winner at Blackpool and was being chaired off the pitch by the fans. One lad asked me for my shirt, but I couldn’t give it him as we only had one set for the season!’

The characters from those financially impoverished times were there in abundance. “David Barnes was crazy. One week he turned up in the dressing room in his girlfriend’s basque and suspenders. He was nuts.” Dean continued: “One week we were due to play West Brom in a behind closed doors friendly game as we’d had a midweek game called off. Dave made It clear he didn’t want to play and in the first minute, went through their winger with both feet sending him crashing over the touch line. The ref called him over and asked his name. ‘Billy Bandu’, Dave replied.

The ref asked him to spell it. ‘B-A-N-D-U’. ‘OFF!’ exclaimed the ref. The lads were in stitches and a few days later a letter came through from the league, with a three game ban for violent conduct pinned to the notice board. Billy Bandu the culprit.”

It was then a case of new faces at Molineux as Brian Little came in the following season before a familiar face re-appeared. “I think Brian wanted to drop me but I scored away at Stockport and Scunthorpe. It was too late though, as we were both soon on our way. Graham Turner became manager and that was the end of my days at Wolves.”

Dean then went on his merry way for the second time under Graham Turner and was given a free transfer, quickly being snapped up by Exeter. Slightly further down Division Four, but even further down the country. “I’d gone out to Sligo in Ireland on loan as I wasn’t part of Graham’s plans. He’d clearly remembered what had happened at Shrewsbury and made it clear he didn’t want me. I did joke with him that I was like the World Cup. If he got to give me a free transfer three times, he got to keep me.” Graham didn’t see the funny side and Dean was Exeter bound, where he hit the net 17 times in 54 games in his newly found home of Devon.

“I scored five in 10 and earned a two-year deal. It got off to a great start. We played Wolves the following season and I wanted to show Graham Turner what I could do.

But we lost 4-2 and Bully got a hat-trick.” Dean scored his own hat-trick a few weeks later against Darlington but manager Terry Cooper made it clear that he wasn’t in his plans. “I was gutted to be fair, I loved it at Exeter but then I found out that Cyril Knowles of Torquay had come in for me. I’d agreed a £10,000 signing-on fee and Terry was letting me go on a free. When Terry found out about the signing on fee, he demanded £6,000 for me. I ended up with £5,000 in the end and it left a bitter taste in my mouth as he didn’t even want me. I told you it was a brutal industry.”

Dean became a cult hero at Torquay. He ended up playing for the club, managing them, acted as commercial manager for a time then became chairman after part-owning the club for a brief while. His fondest memories though remained on the pitch and it wasn’t long before he came back to haunt Mr Turner in a Roy of the Rovers-esque twist of fate.

“We drew Wolves In the Sherpa Van Trophy semi-final. We were fourth from bottom of the Fourth Division and they were top of the Third. We had no chance. I wasn’t thinking of playing at Wembley, only going to watch Wolves there!”

Dean then showed Wolves exactly what they were missing. “The first leg was at Torquay. Cyril Knowles got the fire brigade down the day before to water-log the pitch. It was all unsettling for Wolves. I scored in front of the Wolves fans and we went 1-0 up. I thought we were going to hold on until Bully popped up in the last five minutes and scored twice. 2-1 down after the first leg.”

The return to Molineux soon came around. “I remember being in the tunnel, I shouted out loud as we were running out – ‘we can do this lads’! Thommo laughed and said, ‘what cloud are you on Deano’?”. It wasn’t long before Dean opened the scoring again. “We ran our socks off, I scored the first then we grabbed another. I remember looking at the old clock in the corner by the North Bank and asking the ref to blow up as it was time. He told me the clock was 10 minutes fast!. The rest of the game saw me with the ball in the corner with Ally Robertson raking my calves.”

Dean though paid homage to his former club and why he thought they’d lost the game. “Floyd Streete never played and Roger Hansbury was playing in goal instead of Mark Kendall. Bully missed a great chance. He was in front of goal on what would have been bread and butter for him but he tried too hard to score. It was our night.”

Dean enjoyed his time on the South Coast and recalls playing with a trailblazer of his time, Justin Fashanu. “Justin was a great talent. Very fit, impeccable physique but when he first joined gave me my biggest laugh. Some local rogues had come to the club after training to sell us some sheepskins. We weren’t to know they were knocked off and bought them in good faith. Justin was doing an interview on the night with the local TV station discussing his move. It was quite chilly so he wrapped up in his new jacket. After the interview, they moved to the main news section where it was reported that a local department store had been broke into and several sheepskin coats had been taken. We had to laugh, I never wore mine again!”

Dean was always one for a story. “I got to Wembley with Torquay and there were 50,000 there. I composed myself in the tunnel before the game and could hear the clipping of studs walking down the gangway. I turned around to see George Best who had just played in a charity game on the pitch before me. He had some wise words of advice – ‘if you can’t play on that pitch son, you might as well hang up your boots’.”

Two years later Dean’s moment of glory came when he scored at Wembley before Torquay won on penalties to gain promotion via the play-offs.

Dean then paused, reminisced and remained philosophical as he summed up his career. “I idolised my father and when I finally got to pull on the Old Gold shirt for the Wolves, I did it for him.”

Dean’s journey to play for his boyhood club didn’t quite take the path he wanted and his successes never came in a Wolves shirt, but he did it. “If you’d have said to me as a young lad put your five dreams in an envelope they would have been: To play for Wolves. To play at Molineux. To score at Molineux. To play at Wembley and to score at Wembley’. The final question Dean answered without hesitation. “I did them all. My life is complete.”

Jason Guy, Always Wolves Fan TV


Show CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment


  • youtube
  • facebook
  • instagram
  • twitter
  • tiktok